The Kogi Government has appealed to the World Bank, through its FADAMA III AF intervention project, to facilitate the state’s plans to become the largest producer of rice in North Central Nigeria.
Mr Kehinde Oloruntobe, the state Commissioner for Agriculture, made the appeal on Tuesday when he received the Mid-Term Review Mission Team of the World Bank/FGN on Fadama III Additional Financing (AF) Project in Lokoja.
He said that the appeal became imperative in view of the enormous agricultural potential of the state, coupled with the myriad opportunities that were currently being wasted.
Oloruntobe said that the intervention would also enable the state to attain its desired target of becoming the largest producer of rice in the North Central geopolitical zone, while addressing youth unemployment.
“We have just completed some arrangements with a private investor who will be establishing a rice mill, capable of milling 50 tonnes of rice per day, at Omi in Yagba West Local Government Area of the state.
“The Federal Government has also pledged to set up another rice mill with the same capacity in Ibaji and so, we must upscale our rice cultivation to produce paddy rice to feed these mills,’’ he said.
Oloruntobe appealed to the team to urgently consider the request, adding that the state government had already mobilised all the stakeholders to provide all the necessary logistics for the venture.
“We need the intervention because the resources that are available to the state may not be enough to pursue the project but if we have intervention from the World Bank and other development partners, we would be able to actualise all our rice development plans,’’ he said.
Earlier, Dr Adetunji Oredipe, the Task Team Leader, Fadama III AF, said that the mid-term review mission team was in the state to re-assess the intervention programme, with a view to finding pragmatic solutions to the challenges facing the programme.
Besides, Oredipe said that Kogi had signed a subsidiary agreement to access a 20-million-U.S.-dollar facility but had thus far drawn only three million dollars for its intervention projects.
He, however, said that a new window of opportunity to access the funds had opened with the extension of the programme by eight months for the benefit of the northeastern states which were hitherto ravaged by the Boko Haram insurgency.
He solicited the support of the Kogi Government for the success of the Fadama III AF in the state by waiving the new order compelling all the Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to operate a Single Treasury Account (TSA).
He added that the practice would impede progress of the programme.
Oredipe said the four-day mid-term review would enable the team to address issues regarding the perceptible successes or glitches of the FADAMA III AF programme in the state and identify specific areas that required modifications or outright overhaul. (NAN)